Stephen Crane: A critical biography by John Berryman was first published in 1950. It's much briefer than Paul Auster's bio of Crane that I read last year, and was written when some of the principals were still alive or recently dead. There's a strange & Freudian final section, "The Color of This Soul," that was hard to get through but otherwise Berryman is suggestive & illuminating on the work, giving lots of room to the poetry.
Thinking about refreshing this 8-year-old project. Going to try adding a new weekly feature: What I'm reading. In my recent mania to forget nothing, I've been listing every book I finish. Let's see how this goes...
My first favorite poet was Stephen Crane. In declam in high school, I recited a couple of his poems. Oh my gosh! The girl who crooned Longfellow was feted, while Crane's bitter unrhymed verses were not a hit. Did I think because they mattered so much to me, I could put them over? As I recall, I already had my low-key undeclamatory style: even then it seemed embarrassing to try to add my emotion to what the writer was doing on his own.
I have to admit I also admired Crane for dying young, "before artistic old age," as I put it in my diary. I also said (I was 15 & feeling ancient): "I want to be like Stephen Crane— accomplish something great, then die. I do not care to grow old — senile, blind, rheumatic & be repeating the same things, activities, ideas all over."
All this said, I was excited to grab a copy of Burning Boy, Paul Auster's new biography of Crane. He's certainly a completist ~ hard to imagine Crane spent as much time thinking about what he wrote as Auster does. That said, it's sending me back to the work over & over, & that's what a biography of a writer should do, right?
A Man Said to the Universe
A man said to the universe:
"Sir, I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."
I liked that he got right to the point, that I could understand it while it still Read More